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Criminal Procedure: Notes

by

Justice Diosdado M. Peralta

I. Introduction

A. The innovations in these Rules generally address the following


two areas: (1) nature of crimes in environmental cases; and (2) issues on
access to justice.
1. Many crimes in environmental cases involve violations or
non-compliance of regulatory statutes (i.e. dynamite fishing in marine
sanctuaries, illegal logging in forests). Thus, these cases have no
designated private offended party. For this reason, the Rules introduce
innovations regarding the disposition of the award of damages and the
involvement of a special prosecutor.

2. Issues on access to justice are prevalent in environmental


cases. These Rules address broader public participation and the
speedier resolution of cases.

II. Rule 9: Prosecution of Offenses

SEC. 1. Who may file. Any offended party, peace officer or any
public officer charged with the enforcement of an environmental law
may file a complaint before the proper officer in accordance with the
Rules of Court.

SEC. 2. Filing of the information. An information, charging a


person with a violation of an environmental law and subscribed by
the prosecutor, shall be filed with the court.

The Information must indicate the violation of an environmental law, to emphasize


the application of these Rules.

SEC. 3. Special prosecutor. In criminal cases, where there is no


private offended party, a counsel whose services are offered by any
person or organization may be allowed by the court as special
prosecutor, with the consent of and subject to the control and
supervision of the public prosecutor.

This provision recognizes the possibility of intervention from a special prosecutor


even in the absence of a private offended party. In deference to the executive
departments prerogative to prosecute cases, the intervention by the special
prosecutor shall be subject to the consent and control of the public prosecutor.
III. Rule 10: Prosecution of Civil Actions

SEC. 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. When a criminal


action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability
arising from the offense charged, shall be deemed instituted with the
criminal action unless the complainant waives the civil action,
reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil
action prior to the criminal action.

Unless the civil action has been instituted prior to the


criminal action, the reservation of the right to institute separately
the civil action shall be made during arraignment.

In case civil liability is imposed or damages are awarded, the


filing and other legal fees shall be imposed on said award in
accordance with Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, and the fees shall
constitute a first lien on the judgment award. The damages awarded
in cases where there is no private offended party, less the filing fees,
shall accrue to the funds of the agency charged with the
implementation of the environmental law violated. The award shall
be used for the restoration and rehabilitation of the environment
adversely affected.

This provision departs from Rule 111 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, because
it provides for an applicable rule on the disposition of damages where there is no
private offended party. The purpose for the award is for the restoration and
rehabilitation of the environment.

IV. Rule 11: Arrest

SEC. 1. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or


an individual deputized by the proper government agency may,
without a warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has
committed, is actually committing or is attempting to commit an
offense; or
(b) When an offense has just been committed, and he has
probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or
circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.

Individuals deputized by the proper government agency


who are enforcing environmental laws shall enjoy the presumption
of regularity under Section 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court
when effecting arrests for violations of environmental laws.

The presumption of regularity that applies to public officers carrying out their
duties also applies to deputized individuals carrying out citizens arrest. The
process of deputization continues to be governed by the respective laws and
regulations promulgated by the appropriate government agency. The proper
government agency is one tasked to enforce environmental laws.

SEC. 2. Warrant of arrest. All warrants of arrest issued by the


court shall be accompanied by a certified true copy of the
information filed with the issuing court.

The Rules emphasize that the warrant of arrest must be accompanied by a certified
true copy of the Information. This provision must be read in conjunction with
Section 2, Rule 14 of these Rules regarding bail.

V. Rule 12: Custody and Disposition of Seized Items, Equipment,


Paraphernalia, Conveyances, and Instruments
The objective of these provisions is to ensure the integrity in the custody and
disposition of the evidence involved. Note that this stage involves how the
evidence is handled. For instance, items in bulk may need immediate disposal prior
to the termination of the case to preserve its economic value.

SEC. 1. Custody and disposition of seized items. The custody and


disposition of seized items shall be in accordance with the applicable
laws or rules promulgated by the concerned government agency.

These Rules apply only when there is no procedure provided in applicable laws or
rules promulgated by the concerned government agency.

SEC. 2. Procedure. In the absence of applicable laws or rules


promulgated by the concerned government agency, the following
procedure shall be observed:

(a) The apprehending officer having initial custody and


control of the seized items, equipment, paraphernalia, conveyances
and instruments shall physically inventory and whenever
practicable, photograph the same in the presence of the person from
whom such items were seized.

(b) Thereafter, the apprehending officer shall submit to the


issuing court the return of the search warrant within five (5) days
from date of seizure or in case of warrantless arrest, submit within
five (5) days from date of seizure, the inventory report, compliance
report, photographs, representative samples and other pertinent
documents to the public prosecutor for appropriate action.

(c) Upon motion by any interested party, the court may


direct the auction sale of seized items, equipment, paraphernalia,
tools or instruments of the crime. The court shall, after hearing, fix
the minimum bid price based on the recommendation of the
concerned government agency. The sheriff shall conduct the auction.
(d) The auction sale shall be with notice to the accused, the
person from whom the items were seized, or the owner thereof and
the concerned government agency.

(e) The notice of auction shall be posted in three conspicuous places


in the city or municipality where the items, equipment,
paraphernalia, tools or instruments of the crime were seized.

(f) The proceeds shall be held in trust and deposited with the
government depository bank for disposition according to the
judgment.

These provisions concern two aspects of seizure: (1) the chain of custody of the
seized items, equipment, paraphernalia, conveyances, and instruments; and (2) the
disposition of the seized materials.

Paragraph c recognizes that the subject of the seizure may be perishable items of
value. The accused, presumed innocent, will anyway not benefit if these items
perish and can thus ask the court for relief.

VI. Rule 13: Provisional Remedies

SEC. 1. Attachment in environmental cases. The provisional


remedy of attachment under Rule 127 of the Rules of Court may be
availed of in environmental cases.

SEC. 2. Environmental Protection Order (EPO); Temporary


Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) in criminal cases. The
procedure for and issuance of EPO and TEPO shall be governed by
Rule 2 of these Rules.

The applicable provisional remedies, attachment, EPO, and TEPO, are limited to
those that are pertinent to the cases covered by these Rules.

VII. Rule 14: Bail

SEC. 1. Bail, where filed. Bail in the amount fixed may be filed
with the court where the case is pending, or in the absence or
unavailability of the judge thereof, with any regional trial judge,
metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit
trial judge in the province, city or municipality. If the accused is
arrested in a province, city or municipality other than where the
case is pending, bail may also be filed with any Regional Trial Court
of said place, or if no judge thereof is available, with any
metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit
trial judge therein. If the court grants bail, the court may issue a
hold-departure order in appropriate cases.
This provision makes bail available to the accused from any court, within and
outside the jurisdiction of the court which issued the warrant of arrest. The
immediate availability of bail is intended to obviate long periods of detention.

SEC. 2. Duties of the court. Before granting the application for


bail, the judge must read the information in a language known to
and understood by the accused and require the accused to sign a
written undertaking, as follows:

(a) To appear before the court that issued the warrant of


arrest for arraignment purposes on the date scheduled, and if the
accused fails to appear without justification on the date of
arraignment, accused waives the reading of the information and
authorizes the court to enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the
accused and to set the case for trial;

(b) To appear whenever required by the court where the case


is pending; and

(c) To waive the right of the accused to be present at the


trial, and upon failure of the accused to appear without justification
and despite due notice, the trial may proceed in absentia.

This provision addresses a fundamental concern surrounding the prosecution of


criminal cases in general, where the accused jumps bail and the court is unable to
proceed with the disposition of the case in view of the absence of the accused and
the failure to arraign the latter. In the event the accused fails to appear at the
arraignment, the signed undertaking by the accused authorizes the court to enter a
plea of not guilty on his behalf.

VIII. Rule 15: Arraignment and Plea

SEC. 1. Arraignment. The court shall set the arraignment of the


accused within fifteen (15) days from the time it acquires
jurisdiction over the accused, with notice to the public prosecutor
and offended party or concerned government agency that it will
entertain plea-bargaining on the date of the arraignment.

Notice to the concerned government agency to permit its intervention in plea-


bargaining. This is consistent with the public interest inherent in environmental
cases, represented by the government agency concerned.

SEC. 2. Plea-bargaining. On the scheduled date of arraignment,


the court shall consider plea-bargaining arrangements. Where the
prosecution and offended party or concerned government agency
agree to the plea offered by the accused, the court shall:

(a) Issue an order which contains the plea-bargaining arrived at;


(b) Proceed to receive evidence on the civil aspect of the case, if any;
and

(c) Render and promulgate judgment of conviction, including the


civil liability for damages.

IX. Rule 16: Pre-Trial

SEC. 1. Setting of pre-trial conference. After the arraignment, the


court shall set the pre-trial conference within thirty (30) days. It may
refer the case to the branch clerk of court, if warranted, for a
preliminary conference to be set at least three (3) days prior to the
pre-trial.

SEC. 2. Preliminary conference. The preliminary conference shall


be for the following purposes:

(a) To assist the parties in reaching a settlement of the civil


aspect of the case;

(b) To mark the documents to be presented as exhibits;

(c) To attach copies thereof to the records after


comparison with the originals;

(d) To ascertain from the parties the undisputed facts and


admissions on the genuineness and due execution of documents
marked as exhibits;

(e) To consider such other matters as may aid in the


prompt disposition of the case;

(f) To record the proceedings during the preliminary


conference in the Minutes of Preliminary Conference to be
signed by the parties and counsel;

(g) To mark the affidavits of witnesses which shall be in


question and answer form and shall constitute the direct
examination of the witnesses; and

(h) To attach the Minutes and marked exhibits to the case


record before the pre-trial proper.

The parties or their counsel must submit to the branch clerk of court
the names, addresses and contact numbers of the affiants.
SEC. 3. Pre-trial duty of the judge. During the pre-trial, the court
shall:

(a) Place the parties and their counsels under oath;

(b) Adopt the minutes of the preliminary conference as


part of the pre-trial proceedings, confirm markings of exhibits or
substituted photocopies and admissions on the genuineness and due
execution of documents, and list object and testimonial evidence;

(c) Scrutinize the information and the statements in the


affidavits and other documents which form part of the record of the
preliminary investigation together with other documents identified
and marked as exhibits to determine further admissions of facts as
to:

i. The courts territorial jurisdiction relative to the offense(s)


charged;

ii. Qualification of expert witnesses; and

iii. Amount of damages;

(d) Define factual and legal issues;

(e) Ask parties to agree on the specific trial dates and


adhere to the flow chart determined by the court which shall contain
the time frames for the different stages of the proceeding up to
promulgation of decision;

(f) Require the parties to submit to the branch clerk of court


the names, addresses and contact numbers of witnesses that need to
be summoned by subpoena; and

(g) Consider modification of order of trial if the accused


admits the charge but interposes a lawful defense.

SEC. 4. Manner of questioning. All questions or statements must


be directed to the court.

SEC. 5. Agreements or admissions. All agreements or admissions


made or entered during the pre-trial conference shall be reduced in
writing and signed by the accused and counsel; otherwise, they
cannot be used against the accused. The agreements covering the
matters referred to in Section 1, Rule 118 of the Rules of Court shall
be approved by the court.
SEC. 6. Record of proceedings. All proceedings during the pre-
trial shall be recorded, the transcripts prepared and the minutes
signed by the parties or their counsels.

SEC. 7. Pre-trial order. The court shall issue a pre-trial order


within ten (10) days after the termination of the pre-trial, setting
forth the actions taken during the pre-trial conference, the facts
stipulated, the admissions made, evidence marked, the number of
witnesses to be presented and the schedule of trial. The order shall
bind the parties and control the course of action during the trial.

Pre-trial receives ample attention under these Rules in order to facilitate the
organization of the trial and the early identification and simplification of the issues
which shall be resolved at trial. Much emphasis is given on pre-trial in light of the
priority assigned to environmental cases. All means for expediting the case must be
resorted to prior to trial in order to shorten the period for resolution of the
controversy.

Parties are required to be under oath in pre-trial in order to avoid the use of false or
misleading statements.

X. Rule 17: Trial

SEC. 1. Continuous trial. The court shall endeavor to conduct


continuous trial which shall not exceed three (3) months from the
date of the issuance of the pre-trial order.

Trial shall be conducted on a continuous basis, consistent with the thrust of the
Rules for a speedy resolution of environmental cases.

SEC. 2. Affidavit in lieu of direct examination. Affidavit in lieu of


direct examination shall be used, subject to cross-examination and
the right to object to inadmissible portions of the affidavit.

This provision focuses the extent of direct examination only to matters covered by
the affidavit, thus narrowing the scope of inquiry only to the most pertinent issues
at hand. Consistent with the constitutional right of the accused to confront the
witnesses against him, the cross-examination shall still be conducted face-to-face.

SEC. 3. Submission of memoranda. The court may require the


parties to submit their respective memoranda and if possible, in
electronic form, within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days
from the date the case is submitted for decision.

With or without any memoranda filed, the court shall have a


period of sixty (60) days to decide the case counted from the last day
of the 30-day period to file the memoranda.
This provision enumerates 2 specific periods prior to final adjudication of the case:
(1) the submission of memoranda by the parties; and (2) the period within which
the court must decide the case. The provision permits the submission of
memoranda in electronic form to allow the faster evaluation of its contents.

SEC. 4. Disposition period. The court shall dispose the case within
a period of ten (10) months from the date of arraignment.

SEC. 5. Pro bono lawyers. If the accused cannot afford the services
of counsel or there is no available public attorney, the court shall
require the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to provide pro bono
lawyers for the accused.

This provision takes into account the possibility of having an indigent accused who
may not have the financial capacity to provide for his own defense.

XI. Rule 18: Subsidiary Liability

SEC. 1. Subsidiary liability. In case of conviction of the accused


and subsidiary liability is allowed by law, the court may, by motion
of the person entitled to recover under judgment, enforce such
subsidiary liability against a person or corporation subsidiarily
liable under Article 102 and Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code.

This provision applies the doctrine in Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines v. People[1] to
facilitate recovery of damages and other relief from persons subsidiarily liable in
the event of insolvency of the accused. The phrase person entitled to recover
refers to other parties apart from the prevailing party may be entitled to recover,
such as his beneficiaries.

XII. Rule 19: Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation in


Criminal Cases

The SLAPP provisions in criminal procedure are similar to the SLAPP provisions
in civil procedure. Note that the difference is limited to the manner by which to
allege that a criminal action is a SLAPP.

SEC. 1. Motion to dismiss. Upon the filing of an information in


court and before arraignment, the accused may file a motion to
dismiss on the ground that the criminal action is a SLAPP.

The manner by which to allege that a criminal action is a SLAPP is through a


motion to dismiss rather than a motion to quash. A motion to dismiss allows the
action to be challenged as a SLAPP, while a motion to quash is directed at the
Information. Moreover, granting a motion to dismiss bars the refiling of a SLAPP
in accordance with the law of the case. In contrast, the grant of a motion to quash
does not bar the filing of a subsequent Information.
Since there is no provision on prohibited pleadings under criminal procedure in
environmental cases, the defense of SLAPP can be validly raised in a motion to
dismiss. In civil procedure in environmental cases, a motion to dismiss is a
prohibited pleading, so the defense of a SLAPP can only be raised through an
answer.

SEC. 2. Summary hearing. The hearing on the defense of a SLAPP


shall be summary in nature. The parties must submit all the
available evidence in support of their respective positions. The party
seeking the dismissal of the case must prove by substantial evidence
that his acts for the enforcement of environmental law is a legitimate
action for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of the
environment. The party filing the action assailed as a SLAPP shall
prove by preponderance of evidence that the action is not a SLAPP.

SEC. 3. Resolution. The court shall grant the motion if the accused
establishes in the summary hearing that the criminal case has been
filed with intent to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any
legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has
taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws,
protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights.

If the court denies the motion, the court shall immediately proceed
with the arraignment of the accused.

[1] G.R. No. 147703, April 14, 2004